OHSU'S Casey Eye Institute Offers Fireworks Safety Tips to Prevent Eye Injuries

06/24/02    Portland, Ore.

Two years ago 11,000 people were treated in the nation's emergency rooms for injuries caused by fireworks. About 30 percent of these accidents resulted in injuries to the eyes (one of the most common locations for fireworks injuries). Additionally, one-third of firework related eye injuries lead to blindness. This Independence Day Casey Eye Institute at Oregon Health & Science University reminds Northwest residents to celebrate safely.

Physicians at Casey offer the following tips to ensure a safe holiday week:

  • Don't use bottle rockets. They are the most dangerous type of fireworks due to the fact that they fly erratically.
  • Protect your eyes with safety glasses or safety goggles. Regular prescription glasses, sunglasses or contact lenses provide little or no protection and can actually contribute to an injury.
  • Never put fireworks in glass bottles, tin cans or clay pots because these objects can shatter and cause eye injuries.
  • Physicians suggest that families attend a professional show instead of lighting off personal fireworks and never allow young children to play with fireworks.

"If a fireworks eye injury does occur, seek medical attention right away even if the injury appears to be mild," said Damien Macaluso, M.D., assistant professor of ophthalmology in the OHSU School of Medicine. "Do not rinse or rub your eyes or apply ointment or any medication, this can cause additional damage."

Some additional fireworks injury statistics:

  • Fireworks are the cause behind onethird of all recorded eye injuries each year.
  • Two-thirds of all fireworks injuries occur during the month of July.
  • Firecrackers (24 percent), rockets (20 percent) and sparklers (18 percent) are the most common fireworks to be involved in injury accidents.
  • According to the United States Eye Injury Registry, bystanders are more often injured by fireworks than operators themselves.
  • Fireworksrelated injuries cost Americans $100 million annually.